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- This time on Tennessee Crossroads we chow down at the Beacon Light Tea Room in Bon Aqua. Take in some southern hospitality at Falcon Rest in McMinnville. Then discover the mission of some benevolent bikers at Camp Rainbow. And visit the home of Mud Puddle Pottery in Pegram. Perfect. This edition of Tennessee Crossroads, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome. Mention the words tearoom to many of us and, well, we conjure up visions of finger sandwiches and scones and tiny little cups of tea. Well you can get tea at the Beacon Light Tea Room in Bon Aqua as long as it's iced. What attracts loyal diners is the sumptuous southern cooking like fried chicken, country ham, red-eye gravy and biscuits. What do you say we take a trip there and discover their secret? Before interstate 40, highway 100 was a main route from Memphis to Nashville. Then, as now, the Beacon Light Tea Room has been a roadside haven for hungry travelers. - We like to make people feel comfortable and at home and give them a good meal. 20? We'll have it ready okay? Thank you, bye bye. - [Joe] Kim Winn and her husband bought the place in 2008. And, today, not much has changed since it first opened near Bon Aqua in 1936. Especially the signature biscuits, preserves, country ham and fried chicken. These days the Beacon Light is a dining destination, especially for folks who wanna get away to the country for what looks like a visit to grandma's house. - And the people. It's just like family coming here. - [Joe] The restaurant's southern-fried chicken is almost legendary. Specially prepared so it's crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. - I have to cook it in a cast iron skillet, that's the secret. That's just the old-time way, you know, that we all grew up when we'd have fried chicken, you know. And that's what's all in here. We have skillets going all the time. - [Joe] Oh, and just before it's served, each piece gets a short dip in the deep fryer for a little extra crunch. You haven't jumped on that so-called hot chicken bandwagon yet then? - No, no. We try to stay away from the hot chicken. The other chicken keeps us pretty busy. - [Joe] Now, even before placing your order, you'll get a basket of Beacon Light biscuits which garner rave reviews from food critics and customers alike. You have a special recipe for that? - Oh we do. We do have a special recipe for that. Lard and a tin of buttermilk. That's what makes them. - [Joe] Lard and buttermilk. - Lard, not shortening or vegetable oil. Lard, yeah. - [Joe] Okay. Now, the homemade biscuit toppings are not jellies, not jams. - [Kim] It's a preserve. So it has more of a liquid consistency to it. And we just put the fruit in and sugar and just let them cook. And they're really good over some hot biscuits. - [Joe] And a lot of customers wanna take some home. While fried chicken rules the roost on the menu, country ham and red-eye gravy run a close second. In case you've never tried to cook this southern classic, well Kim's gonna take you through the steps. - We put a little butter with the ham and a touch of hot sauce in there. And you let that sear to the skillet. And then you add a coffee water mix to this. And just stir it. And then you let that come to, let it come to a little boil. The boiling pulls the salt out of the ham to give it that flavor. Then it'll be ready for us to eat, okay? - It's not just everywhere that you can go and get country ham and red-eye gravy. But it's my favorite. If I come in the morning or the afternoon, evening, it's usually scrambled eggs and country ham. - [Joe] It goes without saying many customers are regulars. And they don't mind the extra miles required to reach this roadside gem. - [Kim] We have people from all around that come to see us. Memphis, Nashville, several that come from even out of state, when they're coming to visit Tennessee. - We love the food. It's consistent, friendly, can't get it in the city, and we just love the restaurant and we love the people. - [Joe] Jim Levine's a regular who loves the place so much, well, he recorded a song about it for charity. ♪ Built in 1936 ♪ ♪ From a lot of stones and a bunch of sticks ♪ ♪ 75 years and still is going strong ♪ ♪ So if you're hankering for southern cooking ♪ ♪ And where every waitress is so good looking ♪ ♪ This is just the place where you belong ♪ When you're open six days a week, well you have to put in plenty of hours of hard work. But, for Kim Winn, the happy faces of satisfied customers make it all worth the while. - I do love it. And, you know, the customers that come in here there are so many of them that are repeat customers, and you just get to know them. I think that's just the atmosphere that we want the Beacon Light to have. ♪ Under that Beacon Light sign ♪ - You've no doubt heard of the Biltmore mansion over in Asheville, North Carolina. Famous for its modern conveniences. Well, modern at the time that is. But, did you know that McMinnville is home to a mansion that's been called the Biltmore of Tennessee for many of the same reasons. Ed Jones takes us on a tour of the historic Falcon Rest mansion and gardens. - This is the story of a mansion built ahead of its time, and the couple that saved it from destruction. Falcon Rest has been called the Biltmore of Tennessee due to its modern conveniences that were nearly unheard of when it was built in 1896. That's when a wealthy businessman named Clay Faulkner decided to build a home across the creek from his textile mill. Now, he made a promise to his wife, "I'm gonna build the best home in the region." A promise he made good on. And when the promise was delivered it was state of the art. - It had central heating here, electric lights, pressurized running water, indoor bathroom, had refrigeration, and so that's what makes this place so unique to Tennessee history. - [Ed] That's the owner of the Falcon Rest George McGlothin who, in another day in time, would have made a great carnival barker. - You wanna go down there and take a picture of this middle window. And if you see a little lady with a high neck dress and her hair in a bun, that is Darthula Sanders the mother-in-law. She lived here. She died here. You can't get rid of that woman. - [Ed] George's wife Charlien nearly got rid of him for buying the once dilapidated mansion. - [George] I tell people I bought this home Easter week 1989 without my wife ever having seen it. - He came he told me we had bought a mansion. And I said, "What does it look like?" And he said, "Bad." - [George] And I brought her here on Easter Sunday. - [Charlien] And had me standing right here. So it literally looked like a bomb had hit it. And I said. - You put a mortgage on my house for this? - I thought it would take us 30 years just to restore the mansion. - Because it looked, as she said, like a bomb hit it. - Course, we're still here 30 years later but we've got a whole lot more than that. - [Ed] That is an understatement. When the Crossroads team first visited Falcon Rest the mansion was a bed and breakfast, and George and Charlien had just reached an important milestone. - And, by the way, we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. And we might make it, what, to 26? - I think so. We're still married here so. - [Ed] Now, having reached their golden anniversary, the McGlothins are not only celebrating a successful marriage, but many improvements around the property as well. - Well, we started with the mansion. And then we went to the carriage house and we spent a couple of years restoring there. And then I think the next thing was we did the courtyard here. And then we started with the gardens. Now a lot of these things we were putting in originally are growing up and just really stunning. - [Ed] In case you haven't noticed, George is a gifted showman. - And if I look any older please don't tell me, I'd rather not know. Follow me, let's go. - [Ed] Often entertaining visitors with theatrical productions in the carriage house. - And we also have a tearoom where people can come and have lunch here everyday, you don't have to have reservations. And so they can tour, and they can eat, and they can shop. We also have Falcon Manor. Now Falcon Rest is the tour mansion, and Falcon Manor is the accommodation side. The mansion is only used for tours. - [Ed] Of course, most visitors do come to tour the mansion and step back in time to America's gilded age. Like these fine folks from the senior activity center in Smyrna. - We thought we'd come because we love to visit old homes and it's one of the most interesting houses that we visited because of all of the history and how much work they have actually put in to refurbishing the house. - [Charlien] You enter into the downstairs floor, you're with the original staircase there. Gorgeous staircase. And solid as a rock because of the way the mansion is built. The parlor is graced with a beautiful spindle frees all the way across the widths of the room. The lavender room was Daisy's room. She was their little daughter and she was a gifted artist. She was 16 when they moved in. Across the hallway the blue room. It's got a fabulous half tester bed and it is probably the finest we have ever seen. - [Ed] All the rooms and furnishings at Falcon Rest are exquisite. But many visitors are most impressed by a secret room with a strange name. - [George] It's called the slopey room. - [Charlien] There's a secret door that people think is a closet, but they find there is the slopey room. The grandchildren said they would play in this attic when they came to visit, it was an unfinished attic then. It's a big surprise when people get here. Some people say it's their favorite place in the house. We hope that doesn't hurt Mr Faulkner's feelings. - [Ed] I'm sure the Faulkners are just thankful that the McGlothins returned their beloved Falcon Rest to its former glory. And now share its beauty and history. - I hope that they'll take away that history is fun. And that it's about people, what made them unique and strange and awed. That's the stories that people remember. So we hope that they'll take the fun part of Falcon Rest with them. - This has been an adventure. There's always a new challenge and something we're gonna make beautiful. And we get to see it through the eyes of the people who visit, and who appreciate it and enjoy it all over again. - Thanks Ed. Well, summer will soon be here along with all the traditional summer camps. Will Pedigo found one over at Land Between The Lakes that made for an inspiring story. It's called Camp Rainbow and it's a camp for kids with chronic illnesses. Now it's a great bunch of youngsters with some rather unlikely supporters. - Going to summer camp is a time-honored American tradition. And when school lets out and the summer gets hot, kids everywhere pack their bags and get ready to have some fun. Meeting new friends, getting outdoors, getting out of the house, everyone should have an opportunity to go to summer camp. Which is why each year there's Camp Rainbow. - [Camp Counselor] One, two, three. ♪ Brown squirrel brown squirrel ♪ ♪ Shake your bushy tail ♪ ♪ Brown squirrel brown squirrel ♪ ♪ Shake your bushy tail ♪ ♪ Crinkle up your little nose ♪ ♪ Drop a nut between your toes ♪ ♪ Brown squirrel brown squirrel ♪ ♪ Shake your bushy tail ♪ Faster. - [Will] Camp Rainbow began in 1983 with only 14 campers, and was developed to provide chronically ill children the environment and fun of summer camp. Diane Miner the pediatric nurse in Clarksville, Tennessee helped create Camp Rainbow. And for one week each year serves as the camp's director. 23 years ago there were no other camps for these kids. No one would think about taking these kids into a boy scout camp, or a church camp or whatever because they have so many medicines and treatments or disability, they don't know what to do with them. So that was our whole goal, just for them to be able to come and have fun for a week and be like normal kids. - [Camp Counselor] Go. Get it Tony, get it Tony. - You might think that Camp Rainbow would be expensive with 24 hour one-on-one counselors, a full medical staff and lots of fun activities. But kids don't pay to come to camp. Instead, one day of the week they get to meet the people who raise money for the camp, and for some that can be the highlight. And Bikers Who Care, an organization of riders based in Clarksville, Tennessee is the financial backbone of Camp Rainbow. - The bikers, they were thought of these mean rough guys, you know, carrying knives and tattoos and better lock up your purses and all that stuff. They've gone from that reputation to being truly caring people, taking care of the kids. And the Bikers Who Care have given us over a quarter of a million dollars for Camp Rainbow. - This is our day with the kids. We look forward to coming down here. We raise money all year to put this on. It started out with giving $1,500 and we'd give them $2,000. We had a dream, we had a big picture, and that would be someday to be able to totally fund Camp Rainbow. Back in those days, 15 or 18 years ago or something, Camp Rainbow probably cost 15 or 20 thousand dollars to put on. We knew we could never fund it. Well it costs $50,000 to fund Camp Rainbow now, and that's what we gave them last year was $50,000. - [Will] But the Bikers Who Care provide more than just the money needed to run Camp Rainbow. - Say 20 years ago if somebody would have told me that I'd be working at a camp for seriously ill children I'd have just said, "No way, it's not my thing. I may contribute some money. But as far as being involved in it I didn't, you know, I just didn't feel like I was equipped to do it. And so, it was about five years ago I came down with the Bikers Who Care to be a counselor for the first time. You know, it teaches you that these kids, when you see the problems that they've been through, and how they can get out here and smile and have such a great time, it's just been a great experience. I try to come every year. - [Will] Planning and organizing Camp Rainbow could easily be a full time job. But Diane Miner, the counselors and medical staff are all volunteers. Each year camp activities are the result of ideas bounced around in the camp's off season. - [Diane] There is a wonderful staff. And they're year-round thinking, "Ooh, this would be good for camp. Ooh, this would be good for camp." So we try to think of things that they never get to do like riding a hot air balloon, or to get to stand in front of a crowd in front of a microphone and sing on karaoke. But, I remember when a child, a wheelchair child, first got into the pool and laid down. And he said, "Oh, this must be like heaven." 'Cause you think, they never go to a swimming pool. - [Camp Counselor] Look what Tony caught. Tony caught a snake. - See, look, his head. - [Will] When the campers arrive they're each paired with a counselor who is their companion for the week. This one-on-one attention provides any care a child might need, but mainly lets the camper choose fun activities and create their own schedule. - [Diane] The child may wanna go swimming, they may wanna do arts and craft, they may wanna just sit and talk, they may wanna fish. But, we like to have one-on-one so they can go and do whatever they want. Plus it's their buddy, their friend, you know, for the week. And before camp we go over all the children's illnesses and what to expect and what to watch for. But, then we cover. We're not here to say, "Well, what happens with this?" And, "How come you have that?" And, "Tell me about your treatments." We're not here for that. The whole goal was to let these kids come and play and have fun, and forget about all that hospital time and all that being sick. One little boy who was a new one came here. And he was up at the pool and he was gonna take his shirt off. And then he stopped because he realized he had a portacath, you know. And for people that don't know what that is, it's a place where they insert a device under the skin that looks like a button thing and the skin's raised up. But he was self conscious about it. And I said, "No, don't worry about that. There's lots of people with those here. Just look around." He looked around, then he ripped that shirt off and he jumped in the pool and he was happy then, the rest of the time. It didn't bother him. You see, kids come in with prosthesis, you see them come in with wigs and things like that. Because in that other world they're looked at as being different. But, in this world, they're just one of everybody else. - Well, finally, with a population of just over 2,000, Pegram, Tennessee is hardly a busy metropolis. However, as Ken Wilshire discovered, the population does increase every time folks come from miles around to explore their artistic talents. - [Ken] As you walk through the street, the hustle and bustle of big city life, the quiet little town of Pegrum is just minutes away from Nashville. Still, across the highway and railroad tracks from the old train station, there's another bustling community. A community of artists. It's the Harpeth Art Center and Gallery. And it's also the new home of Mud Puddle Pottery. - That looks good. - [Ken] It's the creation of Sharon Ingram. She's the Center Director as well as an accomplished artist and longtime instructor in clay. - We started as Mud Puddle Pottery Studio back in 2004. We were down the road in a much smaller place. And we wanted to expand. So, in 2009 we found this great location and moved into what is now the Harpeth Art Center and Gallery, which is home to Mud Puddle Pottery Studio. So we've expanded into so many different classes and art mediums, and now having a gallery that represents middle Tennessee artisans. You know, it just kind of all comes full circle. - [Ken] Sharon, there's a lot of stuff going on in here. So, tell me kind of what's happening. I know you've got painting here. - Oil painting with Stacey Spevak. Sculpture class, Carolyn Boutwell. Melissa's doing some hand building. And Rachel teaches our hand building and clay classes that we do each week. - You've got the potter's wheel over here. - [Sharon] Yeah, and someone working on the wheel. - [Ken] Wow. - We also have some of the girls doing some of their glazing work today. So we're doing some nice brush work. - [Ken] And just like when we were youngsters, there was nothing like a mud puddle to forget the world around us and let our imaginations take us on wonderfully creative adventures. Now we can be kids at heart on an artistic escape to the Harpeth Arts Center and Gallery. - [Sharon] I hope that they'll find lots of community and friendship, that they'll enjoy taking a class and come back for many more. We have so many nice things to offer, you know, as far as we have pottery classes, oil painting, glass, copper smithing, jewelry classes, mixed media and acrylics, sculpture. I'm sure I'm leaving things out. We try and keep it really busy and there's just a lot of activities going on all the time. - [Ken] Once visitors enter the building they find a spacious gallery filled with exquisite works from middle Tennessee artists. It's certainly inspirational and motivating for students when they head into class. - We like to showcase our local people here and give them some support, and we have a lot of the best artists in the Nashville region here. - Interesting piece here. - Isn't it great? This is Rose and one of her giraffes. She's one of the taka artists. Rose has sold this in FAO Schwarz and Kirstie Alley the actress has one just like it. - [Ken] While these beautiful works of art are certainly incentives to create, they also encourage all ages to explore their artistic abilities. - [Sharon] We have students in all age groups. Of course we have kids classes and we have family events and clay building classes and art camps. We have ages from six years old all the way up to, I have some students that are in their eighties. So we have a wide mix, all in between. We love having teens throwing on the wheel. We get a lot of people that are married, a lot of singles, we get couples. So we get a very diverse group. - [Ken] So, in order to teach all these different groups of students, the art center instructors bring distinctive style and contrast to their individual media. - [Sharon] Instructors here are all instructors that are professional artists, that do this for their living. And it does offer them a great place, a beautiful space to do their work, to have a steady class that they can offer to be a part of the art center here. So they develop quite a following. Stacey's oil painting classes, she has a steady group of people every Tuesday morning and they do just wonderful work. And it's really neat to watch everybody progress. You know, those that have started with her classes and what they're painting now, it's just amazing. They want to make the friendships and to do their arts together. It's their downtime, it's their therapy. It's just a time to take a break and be creative and laugh together. They bring food. We will have wine. You know, they really enjoy the experience. And we want them to. We want it to become a special place for everybody. - [Ken] The Harpeth Art Center and Gallery, where you'll find Mud Puddle Pottery with all its painters and potters, sculptors and students, certainly is a lively neighborhood. It's filled with friends sharing a creative spirit as pure and fresh as the one we had at our own little mud puddles years ago. This is what inspired Sharon Ingram. - That touches a heart string. The people that have came into our life that have made such a difference, I can't imagine my life without them. My husband and I have such a strong community of friendships that have been built from being here, and it's very much a part of us. So we hope to be here for a very long time offering great things to these wonderful people. - Well that puts the wraps on this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Thanks, as always, for joining us. And why don't you visit our website tennesseecrossroads.org, follow us on Facebook and join us next time. We'll see you then.
May 02, 2019
Season 32 | Episode 44
On Nashville Public Television's Tennessee Crossroads, visit Beacon Light Tea Room, a Southern cooking destination in Bon Aqua since 1936. Tour Falcon Rest, a majestic Victorian mansion known as "Tennessee's Biltmore." Meet some bikers with a special mission at Camp Rainbow in Land Between the Lakes. Finally, travel to Pegram to visit the home of Mud Puddle Pottery.